Health Policy Insight
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The home of UK health policy

Regular Columns

Nudging, not judging - Health Policy Today, 24th July 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
07/24/2008 - 17:15

Tom Smith contrasts emerging approaches to tackling obesity in Japan and England.

Japan has just set a legal limit to the size of waists – and is enforcing it – while England, according to a speech from Alan Johnson to the Fabian Society tonight, will attempt to build a social ‘movement’ to combat the problem. Interestingly, both approaches seek to make obesity psychologically and socially undesirable.

Alan Johnson webchat with Labour members- Health Policy Today, 21 July 2008:

Publish Date/Time: 
07/21/2008 - 22:00

It’s been a quiet few days for health policy, with the exception of the news that Imperial College plan to experiment with payment for performance, about which more tomorrow.

The main event of the morning was an online discussion between Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for Health, and Labour members who logged on for a discussion. The questions set out some of the issues that Labour loyalists worry about in relation to health policy.

The Maynard Doctrine: the trouble with incentives

Alan Maynard is professor of health economics, University of York

Monday 21 July 2008

The trouble with incentives is that they work, but they may produce changes in behaviour that are at once welcome and perverse.

Take, for instance, the fines announced in December 2007 for NHS trusts that fail to hit their C.Difficile targets. These fines are potentially large, up to £3.5 million for unsuccessful trusts. Faced by such fines, managers are striving very hard to improve the performance of their hospitals - just as Ministers hoped they would.

A trial without evidence - Health Policy Today, 15th July 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
07/15/2008 - 17:30

Health Policy Insight associate editor Tom Smith on the debate of the day

At 9 am this morning, BBC Radio 4 hosted a programme on the cost of the NHS and the involvement of the private sector.

Health Policy Today, 13th July 2008 - Local authorities to hold PCTs to account

Publish Date/Time: 
07/13/2008 - 23:34

Health Policy Today, 13th July 2008 - Local authorities to hold PCTs to account: the implications of Hazel Blear’s new White Paper Communities in control: real people, real power

Last Wednesday, on the 9th of July – Hazel Blears published a White Paper Communities in control: real people, real power. It didn’t make huge headlines and a very important implication for health seems not to have been noticed.

Storms gather in Edinburgh - Health Policy Today 7th July 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
07/07/2008 - 17:30

7 July 2008 - Tom Smith on today’s health policy debate.

It's that time of year when the BMA’s representatives come together for their annual conference. In his first speech as chairman, Dr Hamish Meldrum was keen to show the delegates where he stood in relation to the private sector and market forces in healthcare.

The Maynard Doctrine: is competition 'The Answer'?

Alan Maynard is professor of health economics, University of York

Monday 7 July 2008

During the Wilson government in the mid-1970s, clinical practice variations were identified as a major problem. They remain so today, with the Darzi report, High-Quality Healthcare For All, demanding change because similar patients with similar needs get very different treatment.

Is the government serious about clinical engagement? Health Policy Today, 3rd July 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
07/03/2008 - 17:00

3 July 2008 - Tom Smith on clinical engagement

On the one hand, the Darzi review places great stress on clinical engagement; on the other health minister Ben Bradshaw seems determined to maintain political pressure on GPs. Every newspaper today reports his comments that in some places GPs have a “gentleman’s agreement” not to take on each other’s patients. If it were true, it would undermine choice in the NHS, making it difficult for patients to move practices.

Health Policy Today 2 July 2008: a step towards NHS-funded health tourism?

Publish Date/Time: 
07/02/2008 - 18:24

Health Policy Today - 2 July 2008

by Andy Cowper

With apologies to Garrison Keillor, it has been a busy day in the health policy village.

Parlez-vous NHS?
The Guardian reported a potentially major development, in the form of the European Union’s draft legislation on a right to travel to any of the EU’s 27 member states for free treatment (

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